Chantelle Cameron becomes the first world champion from her town, while Joshua Buatsi stops Marko Calic
Adriana Araujo had already lost her chance at the vacant WBC super-lightweight championship on the scales, the day before her scheduled title match against fellow unbeaten Chantelle Cameron. Coming in almost six pounds over the 140lb limit was unprofessional at best, but Northampton’s Cameron was determined to teach the Brazilian a lesson inside the ring and capture a belt that was now at stake only for her. She did just that to become her town’s first boxing world champion.
Cameron, nine years younger than the London 2012 bronze medallist, started fast and busy in this 10-twos, against a rival who looked ponderous and uninspired. Chantelle, a mandatory challenger for the WBC at two weights (including 135lbs), stayed mostly on her toes, throwing rapid combinations of fours and fives. Araujo moved as though she was labouring through treacle, albeit with a solid defence and her fair share of smarts.
By round six, it became sad to watch a veteran fighter plod forward into sharp combinations. Dispirited, she took a pounding at the end of the seventh. That shouldn’t take away from Cameron’s excellent performance however. With sublime movement and shot selection, she took this, and the coveted strap, at a canter (100-90 for all three judges) making history in the process.
In the nominal main event, light-heavyweight Joshua Buatsi showed better form than his fellow unbeaten Olympic bronze medallist, but, following over a year of inactivity, faced a real battle with confident and talented Marko Calic.
Despite being 12-0 to his opponent’s 11-0, Buatsi had mixed at a higher level as a pro and was the more successful amateur despite a shorter unpaid career. It looked a tough ask for the Croatian over 12 rounds but he rose to the occasion. Croydon’s Buatsi began in typically patient manner, landing his ramrod jab on the taller Calic. The rangy European showed fast hands on the counter and his head movement was on point. He dished out some serious stick in the third and Buatsi’s left eye started to swell rapidly.
Buatsi sensibly targeted the body, aiming both to slow Calic and target an area less well protected than the Croat’s head. Joshua broke through with a big overhand right in the fifth and put Calic under pressure against the topes as the session came to a close.
Buatsi had more success in the seventh, Calic eventually going down under pressure, looking shaky as he rose before insisting he wanted to continue. The writing was on the wall and, with Calic’s back against the strands, his cornerman clutched the towel in the referee’s eyeline. The arbiter then called the contest off.
A highly watchable show-opener saw Linus Udofia remain unbeaten and retain the English middleweight title with a ninth-round stoppage of Brixton’s John Harding Jr, part of the Dillian Whyte camp.
Nigerian-born, Luton man Udofia generally held centre ring, pumping out an excellent jab and following up with rights and good body work. He was composed and did the basics very well. Harding Jr, aka Pester Superstar, was effective in quick bursts but rarely worked consistently throughout the entirety of a round. He also held frequently, appearing tired from the sixth and growing increasingly wild. There was no faulting the Londoner’s effort, however in his second shot at the belt, but a sharp counter right hand dropped him in the ninth. Harding Jr rose at ‘eight’ but looked exhausted and was ruled out. It was scheduled for 10.
It took “The Savage” Alen Babic two-and-a-bit rounds to take care of Irishman Niall Kennedy. Crotatia’s Babic, handled by sparring partner Dillian Whyte, fought in the style to which we have become accustomed, winging hooks for fun and maintaining a fast pace. He dropped Kennedy early in the third (of eight) and followed up to prompt the referee’s intervention. He is now 5-0 (5).
In a fight postponed from two months ago at Fight Camp when talented Oldham prospect Aqib Fiaz fell ill and withdrew at a day’s notice, Birmingham’s former Midlands champion Kane Baker belatedly got his chance at pulling off a noteworthy upset. However, it was not to be. Fiaz worked behind a low left hand, but was razor sharp and employed intelligent lateral movement. Baker applied sensible pressure and came on strong in the last couple, but Fiaz proved defensively sound and won their eight-rounder 97-95.
Debutant John Hedges, a 6ft 5in super-middleweight southpaw and good amateur, edged Jan Ardon, a fellow leftie but a division lighter and with a losing record. The Czech underdog, determined and accurate, appeared to have done enough to get a draw at the very least against an apprehensive Hedges who was sharp at times but was hittable and lacked urgency. Refereee Ian John-Lewis, however, made Hedges the victor, 39-37 or three rounds to one.